The Role Of Miss Strangeworth In Shirley Jackson's The Possibility Of Evil

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When small, happy towns are pictured, most people imagine generous townspeople who act like a community. On the contrary, Pleasant Street in the short story “The Possibility of Evil” by Shirley Jackson, may come across as a delightful town, until more of the truth is revealed. Miss Adela Strangeworth comes off as a sweet, old lady, but as the story continues, readers will encounter that Miss Strangeworth is not the character that was portrayed at the beginning. Adela is a deceptive, obsessive, and oblivious woman who is well known throughout the town. Adela’s reputation is ruined when the townspeople identify Miss Strangeworth as deceptive. Adela anonymously sent nasty letters to people throughout the town. Miss Strangeworth became sneaky about it as the letters that were written were done on stationary used by many and in a child’s block writing. The act of sending these mean notes became malicious as Miss Strangeworth “had always made a point of mailing her letters very secretly; it would, of course, not have been wise to let anyone see her mail them” (Jackson, 1941, p.172). The perspective of Adela is misleading at the beginning of…show more content…
In the short story, Adela’s house is described to be kept like a museum. At Miss Strangeworth’s house “every window sparkled, every curtain hung stiff and straight, and even the stones of the front walk were swept and clear” (Jackson, 1941, p.168). Not only did Adela keep her house tidy, she also tended to her roses outside. Miss Strangeworth’s grandmother had planted the roses, and Adela continues to look after them. Adela keeps many roses throughout the house as well. Miss Strangeworth is pleased with the way her house and belongings are kept tidy and “[Adela] [is] fond of doing things exactly right” (Jackson, 1941, p.169). Miss Strangeworth has a compulsive personality, and becomes obsessive about everything being in the right
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